While talking to a recently engaged female coworker, I found myself being asked for the 100th time about guys and wedding planning. It seems that the majority of grooms approach the process with emotions ranging from ambivalence to annoyance. Personally, that was not the case for me. For the record, I'm not saying that I found the 15-minute debate over the preferred napkin fold to be completely necessary. However, I did have a great time at my own wedding and enjoyed the overall process of throwing the biggest party that I'll probably ever host. So why was my experience such an exception??? (For you guys out there, take this as your survival guide. For the ladies, here's a little insight that may prove useful.)
The wedding industry seems to make everyone believe that all brides have been dreaming and planning their wedding day ever since they received their first Barbie. This idea, whether real or perceived, is very intimidating to us guys. Maybe this is in fact the case, but in my experience, few brides have every single detail predetermined. More often than not, it seems like there are only a handful of ideas that are deal breakers, thereby allowing for plenty of wiggle room. So guys, unless you're explicitly told otherwise, treat your wedding as your wedding. It shouldn't be just her big day; it is your (plural) big day. Of course you want her to be happy, but your happiness counts too. And remember, chances are that one of those things that she wants for her wedding is a groom that is happy to be there.
By the time most of us are in the process of getting married, we've been to a few weddings ourselves. Think about what elements you enjoyed and what things you would change. Never been to a wedding that you actually enjoyed? (This is not terribly uncommon for many guys) Then instead think of any other big event as a reference (prom, birthday party, etc.) and use it to set a priority list. Figure out what you want for your wedding. Long or short? All inclusive or intimate? Simple or extravagant? Sentimental or humorous? Elegant or boisterous? Do you care more about great food or great music? You get the idea. Above all else, communicate and compromise. That's good advice for wedding planning, as well as marriage in general, so what better time to start? Part of the fun of wedding planning is creating the day with your new partner in life. You're a team... so act like it.
So now that you know what you two want in general, stick to those things and don't let the minor details or outside opinions ruin your day. You may find it hard to believe now, but there will likely be heated debates over relatively meaningless details that no one will notice but you. Keep everything in perspective. The bottom line is that you're getting married, and that alone should make it a great day. If dresses, flowers, cakes, guest lists, or whatever else gets in the way of that fact, then it is time to step back and reevaluate things. No matter how much you plan, something will go wrong. Accept this fact and move on. Surprisingly, it is often those unplanned mini-emergencies that are the most memorable moments. It is up to you to make it a good memory rather than a regret. Since not everything will happen as planned, focus on the important things and just enjoy the day.
As I said before, few grooms will take interest in napkin folds, the difference between ivory and white, or have a strong opinion on calla lillies. But there are things that will interest us and therefore, are good ways to get us involved. Maybe it is working with or finding the perfect DJ or band. Maybe it is creating a website or slide show. Maybe it is planning the honeymoon. Most guys won't mind planning a big party but if that party is all of a sudden renamed "wedding," they avoid it like the plague. Wisely chosen delegation of tasks is key.
Finally, have fun. If it isn't fun, then why are you doing it? And for the record, no matter how much you love your parents, their expectations cannot be your only motivation behind your wedding. There are no rules to what must be part of your day. You're spending a lot of time, money, and emotional energy on this, and it would be a shame if you didn't make it your own (I'm so ashamed that I've resorted to sounding like an American Idol judge).
As for us, we wanted the ceremony to be personal. We had family members perform the music and ministers who knew us well conduct the ceremony. Family history was referred to in the service and bios of the wedding party were in the program. Custom details were sprinkled throughout the entire event, and even if the symbolism was lost on the majority of the guests, each was special to us. As for the reception, we just wanted to have a good time with our friends and family. The two biggest factors that influence your wedding’s fun-factor are good music and a fun-loving wedding party that sets the tone. Lastly, we saved money and cut corners on certain things but invested in a good photographer. After all, once it is over, all you have are the memories and the pictures (and how many times are you really going to watch a wedding video?).
The Bride Weighs In
Yes, I am absolutely lucky to have had a groom that actually wanted to be involved. If this isn’t the case for you, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Is he not involved because your wedding obsession has scared him away? It may be hard for you to relinquish control of certain parts of the big day but you can’t (and shouldn’t) do everything. Help him feel more involved by giving him a defined task, and once you’ve given it to him, let him do it. Don’t micromanage or second guess. Instead, trust that he’ll do a good job and let it go. Now I’m not saying that you should let a guy who thinks jean shorts are in vogue pick out your bridesmaids dresses (or any garment for that matter...). There are, however, a multitude of tasks for the eager and not-so-eager groom. B and I had a blast working together on our wedding, and while there were tears (mostly mine), we learned a lot about each other in the process. We still crack up every time we think about the awful ballroom dancing instructional video we bought in the clearance bin at Borders, and I giggle when I think about the meltdown I had at the Post Office when learning I’d have to forego the wedding stamps on our invitations for American flag stamps. Have fun and try to relax. Easier said than done, but if I did it while studying for the California Bar Exam, you can do it too!
For more marriage-related commentary, see our posts on our engagement and our honeymoon.